Ever been disappointed by the taste of instant mashed potatoes? You might think from the fact that instant potatoes have become so common that making mashed potatoes from scratch must be difficult or time-consuming, but it’s not so! The purveyors of dehydrated potato flakes certainly want you to think mashed potatoes from scratch are a complex art beyond your ability or patience, but once you’ve tried this simple approach, you’ll never be persuaded by that silliness again.
Mashed potatoes are one of the easiest, most delicious ways to serve potatoes, and I’ve yet to have a picky eater turn their nose up at a plate of these. So when I don’t know what to serve with a plate of pork chops or roast chicken, I whip up a batch. They take less than 30 minutes, from start to finish. Join me in taking this traditional dish back from the industry of “instant,” and savor the creamy, wholesome deliciousness that is freshly mashed potatoes!
30-Minute Mashed Potatoes
You can mash any potatoes, but two of my favorite varieties for this purpose are Yukon Gold and Russet. You’ll need one medium-sized potato per person (though leftovers never hurt anyone).
I peel. If you like some skins in your mashed potatoes, I still recommend partially peeling the potatoes (you’ll only use the skin that remains on the potato) and peeling in a stripe pattern. The potato masher doesn’t do a very good job of tearing up the skins, so if you leave all the skin on, you’re likely to get big chunks of it in your finished product.
Cut the potatoes into 1-inch chunks. (Precision is not important here.) Put in a saucepan and add enough water to cover. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until you can easily poke a fork through the biggest chunks. (When I’m making only three servings at a time, the potatoes are usually done after about 10 minutes of simmering. Larger amounts will take a bit longer.)
Drain the potatoes. If you have a large amount, you’ll probably need to do this in a colander. With a smaller amount, you can just use the lid of the saucepan to hold the potatoes inside while you dump out the water. I’m all for doing things the way that dirties the fewest dishes!
Put the potatoes back in the saucepan if you took them out. Add about 1 tablespoon of butter for each serving of potatoes and 2 tablespoons of milk (or cream) per serving. Begin mashing the potato chunks right there in the pan, using a hand masher like the one in the picture. This takes less than 30 seconds. As you mash, you can add more milk to get the level of creaminess you desire. Add salt and pepper to taste.
That’s it. Really.